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August 26, 2002

Alternative Therapies and Explanations

Question from Cary, North Carolina, USA:

What are the most current known benefits to niacinamide for people with and without diabetes? Is niacinamide safe and effective at a dose of 1000 mg/day for a male weighing around 150 pounds? What is the maximum safe dose that should be taken daily? Are there any potential side effects or dangers to high doses of niacinamide?


The role of nicotinamide has been described as that of an ‘antioxidant’, which like ascorbic acid and vitamin E are molecules that scavenge toxic oxygen derivatives like hydrogen peroxide that may sometimes be produced in excess in mammalian metabolism.

There is some evidence that this action may be of benefit in mitigating the destructive effects of the autoimmune system on the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. A recent study in New Zealand schoolchildren who had blood tests that were positive for islet cell antibodies showed that nearly 60% of these children could be protected from insulin dependance for up to eight years. A much more extensive study called ENDIT is being carried out in a number of Europaean centers, but the results are not yet published.

Side effects seem to be minimal, although there is some evidence that this can occur if the dose exceeds 3 grams per day. A dose of 1000 mg per day should be safe for most people, but obviously should be checked with their physician.

Just why your friend should be taking this dose is not clear since the product is of no known value for those who already have diabetes including type 1A.